FRBRUARY 2019 || Growing in force

The good: The only way is up for 2019, as our sales grew compared to January, and our sales force took a big leap, from 86 to 124 sales agents! We also solidified partnerships with organizations in Tanzania and Uganda, laying the foundations for our expansion into these countries.

 

The challenge: This year we are not targeting expansion in Kenya through new branches, so our number of branches has stagnated. This does not, however, prevent us from growing our sales, and we did grow our sales compared to January, and even exceeded our goal. However we did not exceed our goals by as much as we did in January. With the number of new agents increasing as we continue with trainings across the country, we also fell just shy of our sales agent income goal, as agents typically hit this target income later than their first month.

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JANUARY 2019 || new year, new products…old prices!

The good: After a jubilant end to the year, with our best month of sales to date (December 2018) we were apprehensive about January, as prices were set to go up for many of our products. However, prices remained the same on our main cookstove product, which helped to maintain higher than expected sales. We also started piloting LPG (liquid petroleum gas) at highly competitive prices in a couple of branches, which we intent to expand to other branches in the coming months. We’re also ecstatic to have hit double our sales agent income goal which is testament to the hard work of each and every LivelyHoods sales agent.

 

The challenge: As with every new year, we always see a drop off in the number of agents given that many do not return after the extended holidays. We counter this by offering additional bonuses and incentives to sales agents and so we did mitigate this attrition. We also then conducted several new trainings in a handful of branches so that we could boost our sales force numbers.

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December 2018 – A month to break all records

The good: That’s right, this was a record-breaking month.We had our best sales performance ever in terms of revenue and sales agent income. Though we had a slightly smaller number of sales agents, they were all doing incredibly well, truly making the most of the holiday spending spirit and people travelling to see family members, bearing household gifts.

The challenge: As always at the end of the year, we are looking to the new year ahead and kickstarting activities again. However, we’re left with some uncertainty about product pricing from partners, and also how many sales agents we will start the year with, as many travel to their rural homes for the holidays and come back at different times, or not at all.


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NOVEMBER 2018 || GEARING UP

The good: This month has been an upwards inflection all around, with all our numbers hitting way above our goals and showing just what LivelyHoods sales agents are capable of.  A pricing promotion by one of our main product partners has helped to boost cookstove sales in November, and an ever-increasing number of solar sales has also helped boost sales agent income. As always, the end of the year is a time for growing each existing branch and not opening new ones, and this has truly been achieved through the hard work of the entire team and every single sales agent.

 The challenge: The size of our sales force has been somewhat constant for the second half of the year, though our goal was to grow the total salesforce steadily each month. This is a result of lower than projected conversion rates of trainees to sales agents, meaning we are only maintaining and not growing the number of sales agents across the branches. However, the average income has drastically shot up because of an increase in sales of clean cookstoves and we were able to achieve our sales goals even with a smaller than predicted sales force.

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October 2018 || Focus on conversion

The good: This month saw a major upturn in revenue and number of products sold, peaking right at the end of the month due to a drop in price of one of our most popular cookstoves. This brought renewed vigor to the sales teams, who have leaped on this new offer to push cookstove sales through to the end of the year. We have not opened any new branches for several months, and have instead been growing sales and sustainability in our 10 existing branches, with two in Nairobi and eight in urban towns and cities across Kenya.

 

The challenge: We have been closely monitoring conversion rate from trainee to sales agents this year, and our stable (but not growing) sales force size demonstrates that conversion has not been as high as we would have hoped. There are therefore a significant proportion of trainees who are not going on to become sales agents and addressing this is now one of our priorities for the coming months. This will ensure that we can create more jobs for youth and women and that we recover our investment in our training program through their sales.

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SEPTEMBER 2018 || A TOUGH TIME FOR COOKSTOVES

 

The good: Once again, the income level of individual agents is flying above our goals, meaning that the impact we’re having on individual young men and women is even greater than we expected. Meanwhile, our solar sales are continuing to grow as we deliberately diversify our sales to make up for the difficulty around selling clean cooktoves in recent months!

 

The challenge: As an organization, we are struggling to hit our sales and clean cookstove distribution goals given uncertain economic times in Kenya, and a growing reluctance to spend money. Compounding this is a temporary ban on charcoal, which has driven up prices of charcoal and there is no clarity on whether this will continue, or if there will be an easing off or indeed a clamp-down on the industry, all of which would have different outcomes for the energy-saving cookstove industry. We are actively developing new products for our catalog that would give our customers greater choice in these uncertain times.

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Winner of the 2018 Pan-African Awards for Entrepreneurship in Education

We're so incredibly proud and happy to officially announce that we are the winners of the Teach A Man To Fish Pan-African Awards For Entrepreneurship In Education 2018! This incredible award recognises organisations with an entrepreneurial, innovative and sustainable approach to education, and it's a great honour for us all at LivelyHoods to win the top award.

From a shortlist of more than 50, the Savile Foundation and Teach a Man to Fish, a UK-based education organisation, selected LivelyHoods as the greatest example of an organisation that bridges education and entrepreneurship in a way that promotes sustainability.

Let's keep innovating, educating and growing!

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AUGUST 2018 || LET THERE BE LIGHT

The good: This month has again been a huge month for solar sales, with solar products accounting for almost 40% of all our sales. Our sales force has grown since last month, with some very successful recruitments in Nairobi, and average agent income is also exceeding our goal for the 6th month in a row! We’ll be looking to further expand our product range, which we hope will lead to an even greater increase in sales agent income.

The challenge: Our sales revenue has gone below 75% of our goal, which has led us to take action to overcome the retail slump, especially with regard to clean cookstoves. We’re engaging in marketing events and roadshows with manufacturing and marketing partners, which is giving us greater reach and creating demand in the towns in and around where we have local branches. These marketing events have lead to an increase in sales in several branches.

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JULY 2018 || Agents doing it for themselves

The good: Sales agents are exceeding all expectations, and selling enough to earn an income that exceeds the goals we set out at the beginning of the year. This means more cash to save, invest in their family, or invest in their own future business. This month again, solar products accounted for a significant proportion of clean energy products sold, proving that our sales force can adopt new product pitches and vary their basket of goods. We’ve also seen a slight rise in the size of our sales force, as higher income means agents will stay longer!

 

The challenge: Our overall revenue is not quite hitting the level we projected, and we see a general low level of consumer confidence in Kenya right now, with the typical Kenyan holding on to their money as the price of basic necessities has risen drastically (petrol, flour, etc.).  

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JUNE 2018 || A NEW MEMBER OF THE FAMILY

The good: Yet another new addition to the LivelyHoods family, which has grown to a total of 12 branches! We opened our branch in Kisumu this month, which is Kenya’s third largest city. This has been a challenging branch to open, as it had been slated for 2017. However, unrest around last year’s elections in the area led us to delay this branch’s opening. Now it is fully in business and we have a fresh cohort of Kisumu-based agents brining clean cookstoves and solar products to households in their communities. We’ve also further grown our sales of solar products to include pay-as-you home systems, in part due to the success of these products in our new branches where there are low levels of electrification.

The challenge: Though each sales agent is excelling (demonstarted by the average sales agent income of 123% of our goal), we do not have as large a sales force as we would like for this time of year, which makes it challenging to hit our revenue goal. Some recruitments have been less succesful than projected, so we had a low number of new sales agents joining the branches. We have, however, expanded our partnerships with community groups, who we partner with as both customers and independent entrepreneurs.

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